by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 29 July 2007)
First the PNC was upset that some of its own prominent members were talking about the many irregularities within the party. Then those members decided they should try to make a change for the good of the party by presenting the people with an option for a new party leader.
Then the elections were manipulated when thousands of new names appeared on the list from out of nowhere to vote for a party leader. Then the PNC refused to verify those thousands of new persons for those members who brought up the party irregularities in the first place.
Now, the PNC has decided to discipline the aforementioned members for pointing out the irregularities that the entire nation already saw – irregularities that in fact continued to be on open display for the past few weeks. Truly the recent behaviour of the PNC has been some the most injurious conduct to democracy in Guyana that I have seen.
It seems to me that if Robert Corbin started sporting a uniform and carrying a whip, I would not be the least bit surprised at this point. It is truly no wonder that I often hear people say the PNC will never change. If the last few weeks are an example of what Guyana can expect from the PNC, it is a good thing this is a dying party.
At this point, the only thing left for the PNC to do is to rip the vote away from the people all together. If this party is so bent on preventing a healthy democratic atmosphere within its group, why even pretend the vote of the people matters at all?
It would save a lot of money if the PNC just did away with the voting practice all together and quit the pretence that democracy matters in the process of choosing a party leader.
In fact, if the PNC wants to complete this course of action of washing away democracy, it should just bring the newspapers before a disciplinary committee as well, since journalists and columnists are all a part of the democratic process. I just bet they wish they could.
What is so striking in this whole fiasco is just how bold the PNC is being about its dismissal of democracy. It has shown no shame whatsoever in demonstrating its angst toward those who would challenge the party’s leader – as if this mere man is infallible. If anything Corbin has proven to be one of the weakest opposition leaders Guyana has ever produced.
The intolerant approach the party is taking regarding the democratic actions of some of its key members is nothing less than reprehensible. To pretend that it is normal to call for disciplinary action against notable leaders for challenging the party leader does not fool anyone into believing this is a democratic action.
This disciplinary action is being enacted for one very important reason – to make it clear that no one (not even the most senior members) should ever again dare to challenge the party leader. Making a spectacle of these brave few in front of the nation will send that message across Guyana.
What has taken place during this leadership challenge is all the proof Guyana needs that the PNC is not capable of leading a democratic country. In fact, this whole fiasco is making the PPP seem like it does truly does have “ultra-democratic tendencies.” Though we all know this is a laugh, it is a sad observation that Guyana’s primary opposition makes the ruling government appear more given to social equality.
The cloud of speculation that surrounded any national election the PNC ever won has found new validation in the recent actions of the PNC during the past few weeks. Moreover, it is now evident that this practice of refusing to allow democracy to run its rightful course has become an internal exercise as well.
Therefore, it seems necessary to spell it out clearly for the PNC leader to understand – Mr. Corbin, it is undemocratic to censure your challengers. It is undemocratic to manipulate elections. It is undemocratic to intimidate any would-be future contenders for the position of party leader. Guess where that leaves you and your party in a democratic nation?
The entire nation will be watching the actions of the PNC very closely for the next few weeks as this issue of disciplinary action progresses to see if this dying party intends to put the nails in its own coffin or to prove there is at least an ounce of democratic integrity left in those old bones.
My crystal ball has already shown me the outcome.